This is a reworked version of a blog I posted 2 years ago in a different place at the end of my 3rd year… 2 years have since passed but a lot of what I wrote rings true still so I thought I would edit it slightly and repost it on my new blog dedicated to all things education…
Being a teacher is strange, I think that’s the one word I would use to describe it. It’s a whirlwind of emotion every single day. In just this week alone I have felt happy, sad, angry, confused, exhausted, delirious, embarrassed, proud, hungover, lonely, crazy, frustrated, jealous, elated and relieved just to name a few! And yes I am an emotional person, but when I chat to other teachers I realise I’m not alone.
Which leads me on to why I am posting this blog. I have learnt ten things over the past 5 years that have helped me survive…
1. Lessons don’t always work.
You can plan your lesson to the nth degree, have printed and laminated the best resources, have thought out every sentence stem you are going to implement, created 5 differentiated pieces of work stretching your more ables and supporting the lowers and thought your kids would be amazed and engaged for the entire morning to have your class descend into complete chaos and not get the first task you have set them… But do you know what… Stop, breathe and change it…. There’s literally no point in carrying on. Sometimes it just doesn’t work and that is ok!
2. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas, new displays, new seating plans, new ways of learning… one year I turned my classroom into a cave and got rid of all my classroom tables (my year 1 class worked on he floor on clipboards) and do you know what… It worked! Try talk partners you think are a crazy idea, let children sit where they want, ask a controversial question to provoke thought… just don’t be afraid to step away from the ‘normal’.
3. Take the time to chat to colleagues.
It is the best way to reflect and improve. I have learnt so much from the people I work with this year. I am lucky enough to work in an all-through school which means I work with the secondary teachers too…. And the discussions that have taken place in corridors, cpd sessions, during Friday night staff basketball and in the pub have been invaluable and have really made me think about myself as an educator.
4. Leave the classroom at lunchtime.
Yes you need to set up, Maybe you weren’t quite as organised as you thought this morning and you could start on the 30 books that need to be marked from your last lesson. But seriously…. Just leave your room. Even if that’s just for 20 minutes while you eat your sandwich or controversial take a walk to the local park…..Chat to your colleagues, rant about how your lesson didn’t quite go to plan or maybe even just chat about the latest episode of OITNB… Believe me you will feel better for the afternoon.
5. Stand your ground.
It is important to stand up for the things you truly believe in and consistency is key. Whether it’s with a child, a colleague or a parent… As horrible as it is at the time I promise you they will respect you in the long run.
6. But know when to back down.
No one likes someone who thinks they are right all the time, even when they are wrong. Take time to listen to the other person and think through what you are going to say.
7. Say sorry.
Which can be the hardest thing to do (at risk of quoting Elton John). School is a stressful place. Sometimes we say and do things in the heat of the moment that makes you look pretty mean. But it takes a big person to stand back, reflect and say sorry.
8. Leave work early.
Crazy thought I know, but it works. I’m not saying you can leave early every night but make a day where you do. Set yourself a time to leave and whatever needs doing past that time can wait. Go home and see the family, go to the gym, go and sit in Starbucks with a book, but whatever you do… Just leave and take some time for yourself. Your class will thank you for it.
9. Take the time to listen.
Really listen… To the children you teach, the other teachers in the staff room and to be parents who just want to share their worries. Give them your full attention, don’t offer advice, don’t tell them what you would do, don’t turn the conversation back to you… Just listen. It does wonders for relationship building and they might just be there for you when you really need it.
10. Let it go….
Of course I quoted frozen… I’m a primary school teacher after all. But it’s so true. Sometimes you just have to let it go. Some things are just out of your control, whether you don’t know fully what’s going on, you’ve been asked to do something you don’t want to really do or someone’s let you down again…. Breathe and let it go!
And to everyone out there who’s a teacher, knows a teacher or lives with a teacher…. Yes sometimes we may seem a bit crazy but it’s because we care!